Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden with Keith N. Morgan

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The Friends of the Public Garden presents “Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden,” a lecture by Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan.

Join us as we consider the creation, evolution, criticism, interpretation and enduring value of the most unusual public landscape in the city’s circuit of parks. From its origins as a private botanical garden built on filled marshland to the public horticultural and educational gem of the mid-Victorian era, the Public Garden became a site for controversy and celebration in its nearly two-century history.

Keith N. Morgan is a professor of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University, where he has taught since 1980. He has served as the Director of Preservation Studies, the Director of American and New England Studies, and the Chairman of the Art History Department. He is a former national president of the Society of Architectural Historians.

His publications include Charles A. Platt. The Artist as Architect (1985); Boston Architecture, 1975-1990, written with Naomi Miller (1990); Shaping an American Landscape: The Art and Architecture of Charles A. Platt (1995); the introduction for the new edition of Italian Gardens by Charles A. Platt (1993); and an introduction to a new edition of Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect (1999).   Professor Morgan was the editor and one of the lead authors for Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, (2009).   With Elizabeth Hope Cushing and Roger Reed, he has recently published Community by Design: the Olmsted Office and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts, 1880-1936, (Library of American Landscape History and the University of Massachusetts Press 2013).

Wednesday, February 4
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street, Boston
Admission: $15.00 per person (Pre-registration is required. Photo ID is needed to check-in.)
Purchase tickets

An Evening of Climate Change Preparation and Celebration with Friends

More than 100 Friends Members and others attended a reception at Carver Ballroom of the Revere Hotel on Thursday, October 9th for an evening focused on preparing for climate change.  Chair of the Friends Board of Directors Anne Brooke kicked-off the Members Reception event  by thanking members for their involvement and support, providing an update on projects, and thanking the Motor Mart Garage, the event’s lead sponsor.

Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza provided an overview of a generous marketing campaign implemented by Hill Holliday to raise visibility for the Friends. The Boston-based communications firm designed a new logo, and a wonderfully creative campaign that appeared on advertising space they secured for the Friends on MBTA information kiosks, bus shelters, buses, billboards, and in subway cars.  In appreciation of this marketing partnership, the Friends sponsored a bench in Hill Holliday’s name and, to the delight of Hill Holliday staff in attendance and the audience, surprised them with the gift at the event.

Featured speaker Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston displayed maps, photographs and renderings showing how climate change is expected to impact the city. He explained that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. by one full degree, and that by 2047, the coldest years will be warmer than today’s warmest. He described several cutting-edge projects Boston has initiated to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the city and its residents. How do parks help? Parks with ample turf areas and trees offer the benefits of soaking up rain water, returning it to the groundwater, and cooling the land.  Swett says that areas with trees can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler than those without; a major benefit of our parks. The tree count in Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall totals more than 1,700, and they are cared for by the Friends. For more than four decades we have been working in partnership with the city to protect and enhance these parks.  In 2013 alone, under our tree care program, 700 trees were pruned and 1,200 were treated against diseases such as Dutch elm.

Swett encouraged everyone to get involved with Greenovate Boston. According to its website,, a community-driven movement aims to get all Bostonians involved in reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Whole Foods Shopping on September 23 to Benefit Parks

Shop at Whole Foods Charles River Plaza on September 23rd to support parks
Shop at Whole Foods Market Charles River Plaza on September 23rd to support parks

The Charles River Plaza Whole Foods Market, at 181 Cambridge Street, will be holding a “5% day” to benefit the Friends of the Public Garden on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. Five percent of the store’s total pretax sales for that entire day will support the Friends work to protect and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. For more information: call (617)723-8144 or visit:  Happy shopping to all! 

Public Garden Tours Kick-Off in August

Snip20140730_4Join the Friends of the Public Garden for a walking tour of Boston’s iconic Public Garden. Learn about the history of America’s first botanical garden, and celebrate the plantings, sculpture, and memorials that make this a favorite destination for local residents and visitors from near and far.  The garden has won numerous awards through the years.  Most recently, it ranked 5th on TripAdvisors list of top parks across the nation and was awarded an “Editors’ Choice 2014 Home & Garden Award” by Yankee Magazine.
Non-members: $15.00
Members: Free

August 12 – 5:30 p.m.

September 23 – Noon & 4:00 p.m.

Call 617-723-8144 for more information and to make reservations.

The Friends of the Public Garden has been caring for the Garden along with the Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall for 44 years, in partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.


Spa Days for Ladies and Gentlemen on Commonwealth Avenue Mall

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Spas are popular destinations where ladies and gentlemen visit to seek care for their outer layers. What happens when the epidermis in need of care belongs to a lady or gentleman made of bronze? That’s a question for Sarah Hutt, Collections Care Manager for the Friends of the Public Garden, who designs and implements spa regiments for bronze figures on a regular basis.  The Friends cares for more than 40 pieces of sculpture and memorials on Boston Common, in the Public Garden, and on Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Recently, on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Boston Women’s Memorial ladies; Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone; and the statues of Leif Eriksson and John Glover were cleaned as part of the Friends ongoing maintenance program. The figures of the Women’s Memorial were washed and waxed.  On the Glover and Eriksson statues, “the bronze is protected with a coating of Incralac, a shellac-type coating used for bronze, which is then covered with layers of wax,” according to Hutt.

If cleanings and treatments are not done on a regular basis, the coatings break down and the bronze can be damaged when it is exposed to air and other elements.  “The bright green colors you sometimes see on statuary are the visible signs of oxidation, which means that piece is at risk of suffering serious damage. However, a little green tint is normal because there is a green colorant called a “patina” used to color the wax and give the statue a weathered look,” says Hutt.

It can cost a few hundred dollars to perform preventative maintenance on these works of arts, but once the damage passes a certain point, it could cost thousands to get it back in good condition.  “Fortunately our proactive cleaning program has stabilized the collection and is saving the bronze works for generations to come,” adds Hutt.

The Boston Globe: Public Garden’s Roses Delight…


The roses in the Public Garden are cared for by the Friends of the Public Garden Rose Brigade, in collaboration with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department
Roses in the Public Garden are cared for by the Friends of the Public Garden’s Rose Brigade, in collaboration with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (Photo: Elizabeth Jordan)

“When spring finally came, the rose bushes burst into life, rising day by day toward the sun,” according to The Boston Globe piece Public Garden’s roses delight after winter’s bite. The article, written by Peter Schworm, celebrates the dazzling blooms that draw so many to the Public Garden, and tells the behind-the-scenes story of their care.  A volunteer group of the Friends, the Rose Brigade, has been working in collaboration with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for years to care for these treasured bushes that adorn America’s first public botanical garden.

The Brigade is made up of men and women of all ages. Newcomers are happily welcomed, as are occasional or one-day helpers. Gloves, tools, and instructions are supplied.

During the high season of roses, June through September, the Brigade gathers every Tuesday from 5-7 pm. As the days grow shorter in October we meet earlier. Ad hoc projects occur in April, May, and December. There is a colorful flag to help everyone find where we are working.

Congratulations to our Rose Brigade volunteers and the Boston Parks and Recreation on wonderful blooms this year, and thank you for your efforts to enhance these spectacular sights for all to enjoy.

Public Garden Ranks 5th on TripAdvisor List of Top Parks

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

TripAdvisor recently ranked Boston’s Public Garden fifth on its 2014 Travelers’ Choice list of 25 top parks.

Boston’s Public Garden is the groomed and formal younger cousin to the more casual and boisterous Boston Common. The first public botanical garden in America, its form, plantings, and statuary evoke its Victorian heritage. This green and flowering oasis in the heart of a great metropolis has become a Boston icon. No visit would be complete without a stroll in the Garden and a voyage on one of its Swan Boats.

The Garden is truly a people’s park and a public pride. It is not only accessible to everyone, but citizens have always played an extraordinary role in protecting and preserving it. Observing the Garden on a peaceful summer’s day with the trees in leaf, the flower beds bright with color, and the Swan Boats tracing their tranquil course around the serpentine pond, you would never think of it as a civic battleground. In fact, it has been an ongoing struggle to keep these twenty-four acres of reclaimed land as a place of quiet beauty for the enjoyment of all.

To take an audio tour of the Public Garden, print or view the mapand log on to the tour.